Porte to lead Team Sky at Tour of Beijing, starts race as a favourite

Australia’s Richie Porte goes into tomorrow’s first stage of the Tour of Beijing as the leader of Team Sky after a long 2013 race calendar which began before the Spring Classics.

Tour de France 2013 stage-8

Porte took the overall win at Paris-Nice back in March and was an integral part of Chris Froome’s win at the Tour de France later in the season. Porte acknowledges that the length of his season means it will be difficult for him to be at peak form for the final race of the year.

“The team’s got pressure on me but it’s been a long season,” Porte said. “I’m pretty honest with where I am with them but we’ll see what happens. I’ve heard that the climb’s not terribly hard so if that’s the case… For the end of season I don’t think that my shape’s too bad. I’ll take it as it comes.”

Click here to see the starlist for the 2013 Tour of Beijing. And click here to read more at CyclingNews.

Belkin and Luis Leon Sanchez part ways

Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf is reporting that Team Belikin has cut ties with Luis Leon Sanchez following accusations the rider was involved with controversial doctor Eufemiano Fuentes in the Operation Puerto blood doping case.

Sanchez won stage 14 of last year's Tour de France, back when Belkin was Team Rabobank.

Sanchez won stage 14 of last year’s Tour de France, back when Belkin was Team Rabobank.

Spanish police have suggested Sanchez was a client of Fuentes’ in 2006 while riding for Liberty Seguros but Sanchez denies such suggestions.

A Belkin investigation into Sanchez started earlier this year but revealed nothing of interest, but the relationship between the Spanish rider and the Dutch team became strained.

“His name crops up in too many files,” a Belkin spokesman was quoted as saying.

An internal investigation that got under way at the start of the year had revealed nothing, but the “confidence between the team and Sanchez has been broken”, he said.

Belkin is believed to have settled with Sanchez who leaves Belkin with two years remaining on his contract. The Spanish rider has apparently received offers from other WorldTour teams.

Click here to read more at VeloNation.

Simon Gerrans on track for Tour Down Under

Orica-GreenEDGE rider Simon Gerrans believes a hip fracture he suffered during the Vuelta a Espana could help to put him in better form than normal for the Tour Down Under, and possibly the Herald Sun Tour.

Tour de France 2013 stage-3

“With this injury finishing my 2013 season that bit earlier, it will mean my pre-season will be a couple of weeks in front of where it normally would be. So hopefully it will put me in better shape for January,” he said.

“I’ll be at Tour Down Under,” he confirmed to the Herald Sun. “We’re yet to make a decision about what I’ll do following that but I’ll put a big emphasis on being in good shape in January and trying to make the most of the unfortunate end of this season and use that to my advantage early next year.”

Gerrans is undecided on whether he’ll race the Herald Sun Tour in January, preferring to wait and see what the course is like.

Gerrans is currently back in Victoria and was spotted in Melbourne on the weekend riding on Beach Road and making an appearance at a St. Kilda Cycling Club criterium.

Click here to read more at VeloNation.

Argos Shimano announces new Under 23 development team

In a bid to boost the team’s future prospects, Argos Shimano has announced that it will establish an U23 development team which will start riding next year under a Continental license.

The team will include riders who have taken the step up from the junior ranks, in addition to other riders up to 22 years of age, with the team acting as a feeder squad for the Argos Shimano WorldTour team.

General manager Iwan Spekenbrink said:

“The primary goal of the new team will be the long-term development of cycling talent for the WorldTour. With this team, we can start this process at an early stage, which will benefit these young riders for the rest of their careers.

“We want the riders to adapt to our structure and learn how the WorldTour team functions so that their integration will go smoothly in the future. In addition to providing sporting development support, the team will also help prepare the young riders for life after their cycling careers.”

Click here to read more at VeloNation.

Belkin signs Jonathan Hivert

Twenty-eight year old former Sojasun rider Jonathan Hivert has joined Belkin and will ride for the Dutch squad in 2014 on a one-year contract.

Belkin DS Merijn Zeeman worked with Hivert at Skil-Shimano in 2009 and said of the French rider:

“He has the personality of a winner, but is also a team player. That is the strength of our team as well. A lot of guys here know exactly how to help others, but can also win on their own.”

Hivert appears pleased to be joining Belkin:

“I have a very good feeling about this move. Belkin is a fantastic team, one of the better ones in the peloton. They have a good philosophy. During races I’ve also seen that there’s a real team spirit among the riders. That really appeals to me.”

It will be Hivert’s first year racing at the WorldTour level.

Text adapted from a Belkin press release.

Jurgen Van De Walle retires after 15-year career

Belgian rider Jurgen Van de Walle has closed the curtain on his 15-year career after succumbing to an injury sustained during the Vuelta.

Jurgen Van de Walle arriving straight from home

“The Giro di Lombardia will probably have been my last race. I have a problem with my left leg, the consequence of a crash in the Vuelta. My leg feels tired, that’s why I didn’t have power in Lombardia and abandoned. I’ll be present in Zwevezele [a race in west Flanders] on Friday, but normally I won’t get on the bike unless there’s a spectacular improvement,” he said via his Lotto-Belisol team.

The powerful Belgian won just three races in his career but he played an important role as a domestique for his team leaders, particularly in hilly races. He rode a total of nine Grand Tours and came eighth in the 2008 Tour of California.

“When I started as a professional cyclist I definitely would have signed up for this career,” he said confirming his retirement.

“I am a pure helper, I don’t have the explosiveness to be a finisher. Soon I knew what qualities I had and built my career around it. When I rode in the bigger teams, I could become valuable as a helper. Winning yourself is always a great moment, you dream of it when you start cycling. I’m not the winning type, so the times I could, made me very happy.”

Click here to read more at CyclingNews.

Has doping been good for sport?

Doping is widely condemned as a scourge on cycling, and indeed on sport more generally, but Paul Dimeo, a lecturer in sports studies at the University of Stirling has proposed a more nuanced view of the effect doping has had on sport.

Dimeo postulates that doping might even have done something good for sport, that it might have helped sport become what it is today.

“The best example is the Olympics,” Dimeo writes, “which was in crisis for most of the post-war period. Few countries wanted to host the event, there was little sponsorship money and, beset by boycotts, the movement nearly collapsed. However, what made the Olympics interesting through the 1960s, 70s and 80s – breathed life into the whole affair – was the Cold War rivalry between the Soviet Union, East Germany and the US and their respective allies.

“This rivalry created meaning and a culture of excellence. Records were regularly broken in almost all disciplines. Great performances were admired while ongoing rivalries – individual and national – made for great stories. But we know now that many of the Olympic medal winners from those countries in these decades were on steroids. The growing popularity and media coverage of the Olympics was based upon excellence fuelled by steroids.”

It’s easy to oversimplify Dimeo’s argument and lose the nuance he’s going for, so why not check out this presentation he gave or read more here.

Bike Lane trial to help stop doorings

Glenferrie Road in Hawthorn, Melbourne will play host to a trial of an “anti-dooring” bike lane after a driver opened their car door on that stretch of road in 2010, knocking a cyclist under a truck.

The 900m section of road will be marked to direct cyclists towards the right-hand edge of the bike lane, beyond the reach of car doors. Click here to see how the new lane layout works.

Victorian Roads Minister Terry Mulder said the government chose Glenferrie Road for the trial because of its history of collisions involving cyclists.

“This innovative pavement marking gives cyclists greater protection from both parked and moving vehicles.”

Click here to read more at The Age.

Bike lane safety is a complex issue

In other bike-lane related news, a study published by researchers in the UK suggests that the current literature on the safety of bike lanes is often contradictory and that there are many issues at play when considering whether bike lanes make a road safer for cyclists or not.

The researchers suggest the three most significant variables in play are the road width, the presence of parked vehicles and the presence of vehicles coming the other way when overtaking the cyclist.

The authors of the study suggest there is a larger unknown factor in the whole equation: the driver and their behaviour, which in turn, is based on a range of other factors (including frustration, road congestion, time of day, driving culture and so on).

Click here to check out the research paper.

The Bike Lane resumes today

And in more bike lane news, The Bike Lane is back today! Stay posted for the first episode of season 3, landing later today.

AusBike begins tomorrow

Since its inception in 2009 Ausbike has become the annual trade gathering of the Australian cycling industry where retailers, media, manufacturers and more conduct the business of cycling. The three-day gathering starts tomorrow at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne and the expo is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday. Click here for all the details.

The Rocacorba Recap

And finally this morning, here are a few things you might have missed:

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